Century IT blog

Digital Britain – Broadband Speeds In Contention

June 22nd, 2009

www worldwide web

ADSL Broadband speeds are in contention, both technically and literally. Since the arrival of ADSL in the majority of local BT telephone exchanges around April 2002 the speed of ADSL broadband has not really improved in the subsequent 7 years since.




In 2002 there was much excitement for those who were migrating from their ISDN 64K internet connections to ADSL. Back in 2002 broadband speeds began at the 2MB mark, but unfortunately a lot of people today in 2009 are only still only receiving between 2MB and 5MB download speeds, again upload speeds have also virtually remained unchanged at 400k if you are lucky.



It seems that ADSL technology has not really kept pace with other technological advances. The more seriously affected areas in the U.K are rural areas, with an even more limited connection speeds and supplier options. You will hear that broadband speed is dependant upon a number of different factors:-


slow broadband

  • Distance from local BT exchange


  • Quality of the connections


  • Faster speed with underground cooper wire, slower with cheaper underground aluminium wire


  • Contention ratio


  • ISP rating




Is the problem only going to become worse? The U.K government aims for 100% broadband penetration by 2012 with the current figure at about 65% with broadband internet access



But should it really matter? If we were talking about mobile phones, would we accept that with some suppliers or tariffs we were likely to get a sub-standard connection, or perhaps could only make quality telephone calls at optimum times of the day, I doubt anyone would call that acceptable. So why does a large proportion of U.K businesses accept a substandard ADSL broadband connection?



Is OFCOM doing enough to regulate, control and monitor ISPs? All other U.K service companies’ i.e. gas, electric and water are properly regulated and follow strict operating guidelines. As consumer we don’t generally experience problems with the supply of service from these other service or utility companies, so why should the broadband industry be any different?



Have we exhausted this current ADSL broadband technology? Has the issue become more to do with sharing the existing ADSL availability fairly amongst subscribers?



The Prime Minister Gordon Brown said digital technology was as important today as “roads, bridges and trains were in the 20th Century”.  The Digital Britain Interim Report which was produced by the Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform states that “A successful Britain must be a Digital Britain.”




Gordon Brown – On the subject of Digital Britain & Broadband



  • The average speed of a broadband connection in the UK is 3.6Mbps (megabits per second) according to new research from regulator OFCOM.


  • On average, consumers receive 45% of the advertised headline speed and less than their phone lines can deliver.

Why is this? I think part of the problem has to do with the basic fact that ADSL is not a guaranteed service; it is a best endeavours service. The speeds are dependent upon a number of factors, distance from local BT exchange, quality of the connections, faster speed with underground cooper wire, slower with cheaper underground aluminium wire, contention ratio, ISP rating. It is not uncommon to receive different ADSL speeds between different ISPs but still using the same physical telephone wire.



The 8MB connection speeds the ISPs advertise are difficult to achieve. Century IT Services look after many small and medium sized businesses along the south coast and have yet to see a company with a reliable ADSL connection running at the maximum advertised speed of 8MB.



There are also many techniques to share network bandwidth efficiently and the principle behind them I am not sure many people would argue with. Basically the purpose of sharing bandwidth is to prioritise certain types of internet traffic (at busy or peak times) over other types. For example, video streaming might take a higher priority than say email downloads. Someone watching a program from BBC I Player will definitely notice if the video clip they are watching cuts out whereas if someone else is checking their email it doesn’t really matter if their email takes a few extra seconds to download. This traffic prioritisation can be a good thing, although the danger here is that it is not used to throttle internet traffic at busy times.



What if Moore’s law was true for ADSL broadband connections as well as computer processor technology, where might we be now?



Well Moore’s law refers to the history of computing hardware and Moore’s Law says that every 2 years, there will be a doubling in the number of transistors in a computer processor. This doubling in the number of transistors has made the massive increases in the performance and computing power of modern computers what it is today. Moore’s Law has actually kept true with technological developments for the last 40 years.



Well even by my conservative reckoning, if Moore’s Law applied to ADSL broadband, we could be enjoying a modest 16MB ADSL download connection speeds and 6MB upload speeds with perhaps businesses having ADSL connections several times faster than that. What has gone wrong why hasn’t broadband technology kept pace with other technological and computing advances?



Interestingly now, the Federation of Small Business have taken this subject up and are battling the government  on behalf of every small and medium sized business in the U.K. THE FSB says the government is “stuck in a time-warp over broadband speeds”



The FSB report warns the expected 2mbps by 2012 lacks ambition and shows the UK is in a time-warp. It also reports:

British Economy


  • Britain has the highest proportion of internet advertising of any developed economy


  • By 2012 £1 in every £5 of all new commerce in this country will be online


  • Around 60 per cent of small businesses want a minimum broadband speed of 8mbps


  • More than half of small businesses rely on the internet for up to 50 per cent of their annual turnover


  • Simple tasks such as emailing, marketing, buying and selling, are time-consuming because their broadband speeds are letting them down.




What I think ADSL users really want is something which presently seems unattainable is broadband with the following qualities:-


  • Reliable connection, no drop outs


  • Fast broadband exceeding the 8MB sound barrier


  • No Contention, traffic shaping or bandwidth throttling by the ISP


  • ISPs more heavily regulated by OFCOM to ensure the ISPs infrastructure matches the needs of its customers



I think the points above will be a good place to start to ensure the U.K remains competitive within the global workplace. Moving forward we need to be investing more into researching the broadband technology, pushing way beyond this theoretical 8MB sound barrier. If this can’t be done with the present ADSL technology, then we need to be researching and trialling the next generation of broadband technology.



If digital technology is to be as important today as “roads, bridges and trains were in the 20th Century we need to develop and invest in tomorrow’s technology today.




Useful Links

FSB Press Office

The Official Site of the Prime Minister’s Office

Department for Business Innovation & Skills

OFCOM – Voluntary Code of Practice for Broadband Speeds

Digital Britain The Final Report (Gordon Brown)

Small Firms Must Get The Broadband Speeds They Are Promised – Says FSB


Century IT Services – Getting IT Right
Providing Computer Support & Network Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex & Berkshire

3CX Certified Partner

June 7th, 2009



Our commitment to supplying our customers with an alternative to the traditional phone system increased in June as one of the partners attended a VoIP phone system training day in London.


This has given Century IT Services a detailed knowledge of the way that VoIP based phone systems can be very flexible and cost effective solution for our customers.


They could potentially save large amounts of money in call charges and provide a flexible system with features that only enterprise systems offer for example; Voice Mail for all extensions, a Digital Receptionist and tele-conferencing.


Also another benefit is that this system runs on a standard Computer running a Windows Operating System so when the computer gets obsolete the phone system software can be easily transferred to a new one.


The course was run by 3CX the powerful software which is at the heart of the phone system that Century IT offers. Since the training Rick Burt now has been certified as a “3CX Valued Professional”.


This means that Century IT Services has proven itself in installing and configuring the 3CX phone system software in a variety of scenarios. It also has access to the 3CX Support team and other support resources.


Fore more information regarding a VoIP phone system for your business follow the links below


Century IT Phone Solutions Webpage

3CX Website         www.3cx.com

Snom Website       www.snom.com

Yealink Website   www.yealink.co.uk

If your computer system failed, which application could you do without for a few days?

June 1st, 2009

If your computer system failed, which application could you do without for a few days?


Nearly every business has a computer network of some description and I wondered what priorities people put on their computer systems. Quite a few companies leave their I.T support to chance and only respond to a computer problem once it has stopped their business.


You can’t run your company without computers.  Have you ever had your server go down, your email lock up or your backup fail? then you know how quickly an IT problem can impact on your overall business performance.


Recently I ran a poll on LinkedIn and asked the question:-


If your computer system failed, which application could you NOT do without for a few days?

If your computer system failed, which application could you do without for a few days?

Interestingly, nobody thought an accounting system was a business critical application and said they could probably do without an accounting system for a few days. It was very strange that no respondents seemed to think an accounting system was business critical application.


Email and Internet were the primary business applications for many companies, with the majority saying they simply could not do without email for a few days, closely followed by Internet.


I would suggest that you need IT support to keep your company running so downtime is minimised, productivty is not affected a situation where you lose revenue is averted


I would like to get some more respondents to this survey, so if you can spare me a minute of your time, please can you add your opinion to my results.




Century IT Services – Getting IT Right
Providing Computer Support & Network Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex & Berkshire